Months before the climb, we had get ourselves prepared by engaging in physical activities like mountain hiking, jogging and toning up in the gym. We had heard stories about the strenous 8-9 hike and that is only up to Laban Rata. Sp we had better get ourselved physically and mentally prepared.
There are two accessible trails up to Laban Rata, the Timpohon and Mesilau trail. Those who seek a more challenging trail should try the Mesilau trail as it is slightly further than the Timpohon trail. My recommendation would be to use the more challenging Mesilau trail for the ascend and then the shorter Timpohon trail back during the descend. Doing this would enable you to enjoy the best of both views.
It is wise to be fully equipped in order to reach our goal of reaching the peak. Better be well-equipped than sorry later. Below are a list of equipment essential for climbers.
1. Warm, waterproof jacket
(To keep you warm from the chilly and windy environment. Ensure you bring a raincoat if your jacket is those fleece type. I witnessed a person experiencing near hypothermia situation on our way up as his jacket was not waterproof and it was drizzling at that time)
2. Warm, waterproof, lightweight pants
3. Spare socks and underwear
4. Beanie/woollen hat
(Recommended to keep your ears warm from the piercing cold)
5. Fleece or waterproof gloves
(It can get pretty chilly up there so it is essential to keep your hand and fingers warm as you need to hurl yourself up on the rope sections)
(chocolate, dried fruit, nuts, jelly beans)
(at least one litre, not recommended to refill with the unfiltered water during the journey as you might experience stomach upset)
8. Headache tablets
(Recommended to bring along Panadol Actifast, you never know if the altitude sickness might get to you)
9. Muscle pain cream or spray
(Head-mounted is ideal for the night climb to the summit. Ensure you bring spare batteries, else you would have to hitch a light from somebody else)
(Waterproof & soles with good grip. It can get pretty slippery up there. Be sure to invest in a good pair of shoes to ensure you successfully summit. Of course, this is up to the individual as I've seen people hike with normal sport shoes and snickers. The mountain guides and porters even hike with normal shoes with rubber soles and no padding, and it only costs RM5)
12. Plenty of Guts
(You will need them for the almost vertical rope ascends in near darkness)
Recommended attire for early stages:-
1. Shorts (or lightweight pants)
3. Sun block (SPF30 at least)
The Ascend - Day 1
We woke up early at 6am on the first day. By then the sky was already bright and luckily the clouds were clear. Here the sun rises as early as 5am in the morning. After breakfast at Balsam Cafe, we proceeded to the entrance of the Mesilau trail via rented a car from Kinabalu Park. We got the services of a porter which relieves us of the excessive 18kg load. Imagine if we were to carry additional 6kg each on top of our existing 6kg relatively small backpacks. After a quick briefing from our guide Azuwan, we were warming up and getting ourselves ready. The ascend started at 9am...
Mesilau trail milestones
The intersection between Timponon and Mesilau trails: 12.43pm
Waras Hut: 2.22pm
Summit Trail signboard: 2.23pm
Laban Rata resthouse: 2.27pm
The Ascend - Day 2
The hike is getting tougher from this point onwards, mainly due to tiredness, higher altitude and lack of sleep. Fortunately we arrived at the resthouse relatively early, so we had plenty of time to acclimatize, rest and get ourselves ready for the early morning hike. Also we had managed to avoid the heavy downpour just hours after our arrival. It tends to rain in the late afternoons at these times of the year. The temperature can get as low as 5 degree C at this midpoint.
After settling ourselves and taking a hot shower, we managed to doze off at 8pm. At 2am in the morning, we were already well awake and manage to stuff ourselves with some calories. Half an hour later, we were on our journey to the top.
At exactly 6am, we were standing on Low's peak and it was such a surreal and marvellous experience. Unfortunately, we were undone by the dense mist formation which has practically clouded our view of the sunrise. The dissapointment was quickly forgotten as our fingers were close to frozen and we had nothing in mind but to start our descend right then.
Me overlooking Low's Peak
Me overlooking donkey ears and ugle sister peak
The vertical rope climb, one of the most challenging sections.
Sayat-Sayat Checkpoint, mid-point between Laban Rata and the peak
Photo at the Laban Rata resthouse overlooking the mountain
The locals here mainly comprise of the Dusun tribe who work as guides and porters to assist the climbers. For them, going up and down the hill is a parcel of their life. For the porters, carrying loads of up to 50kg is bread and butter. As you can witness from the photos below, all of them are danggling backpacks, gas tanks and even steel cages that a normal human would find difficult to carry for short distances, let alone up the hill.
You get to experience winter-like temperatures in a country like Malaysia. You get to experience the most spectacular sunrise and panoramic views, though we're not so lucky this time. You get yourself a certificate which you could brag and boast to your friends and family. Climbers reaching Low's peak would be rewarded with a fully-colored certificate while those who didn't make it would have to settle for a black&white version. Those who ascend to Laban Rata via Mesilau trail would have the benefit a another certificate. Worth a mention that these certificates are your own funding.
Certificate (Low's Peak)
Certificate (Mesilau trail)
Overall, it was an exhilarating and unforgettable adventour. This is definitely a must-go place for mountain enthusiast. May make another visit sometime in the future.
For more Mt Kinabalu photos and other travel links, please visit Boon's Gallery.
Other useful links:
Mount kinabalu climbing information, tips & guidelines
Climbing Mt Kinabalu